By Juan Pedro Tomás on MAY 14, 2019

Vodafone announced that it will commercially launch its 5G network in seven cities across the U.K. on July 3.

The telco said that the new technology will be commercially available for both consumers and business customers.

Vodafone also said that it will also offer 5G roaming in the U.K., Germany, Italy and Spain over the summer.

Initial 5G services will be available in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London, while Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton will follow later this year.

“We started our 5G journey more than three years ago. We led the way in setting 5G standards to ensure phones and networks work well together,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery. “We upgraded our masts to be able to take 5G without disruption. And we were the first UK company to test 5G over our all-fibre core fixed and mobile network.

“This is important,” he added. “It means we can today announce the largest launch of 5G in the UK and be the first to announce 5G roaming. It means that UK businesses can lead the world in adopting 5G to boost productivity and attract investment.”

The carrier said that 5G plans will be priced the same as 4G and that an initial choice of 5G smartphones will be available to buy online or in Vodafone stores during the coming months.

Vodafone will also offer a 5G router for use in the home and office to give customers without a fixed line connection high-speed broadband access.

The new price plans will be unveiled next week to coincide with the availability of the first handset. Handsets can initially be used over 4G, and will be able to use 5G when the network is switched on and all manufacturer software updates are completed.

Last year, U.K. telcos obtained spectrum for the future provision of 5G services. Vodafone won 50 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.4GHz band after paying £378 million ($498 million). BT-owned EE won 40 megahertz for which it paid £303 million. Three secured 20 megahertz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £151.3 million, while Telefónica-owned O2 picked up 40 megahertz for £318m.

Vodafone sells New Zealand subsidiary for $2.3 billion

In related news, Vodafone Group announced the sale of Vodafone New Zealand (VFNZ) to a consortium including Infratil Limited and Brookfield Asset Management.

The consortium has agreed to acquire the telco for NZ$3.4 billion ($2.3 billion).

On completion, Vodafone and VFNZ will enter into a partner market agreement, which will include use of the Vodafone brand, preferential roaming arrangements, access to Vodafone’s global IoT platform and central procurement function, and a range of services for the business and consumer markets.

Nick Read, Chief Executive of Vodafone Group, said: “An important aspect of our strategy is the active management of our portfolio and deleveraging, which this transaction further demonstrates. We have always been proud of our Vodafone New Zealand business, which has a great team, and we look forward to a continued close relationship through our Partner Market agreement.”

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals, with completion anticipated during Vodafone’s 2020 financial year.


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